Disney Dreamers Academy to Host Virtual Event for 2020 Participants

DISNEY DREAMERS ACADEMY alumni, from left, Gabrielle Wright, Anthony Juba-Richardson and Julia Shepherd pose for a photo in front of Cinderella Castle in Magic Kingdom Park at Walt Disney World Resort in Lake Buena Vista, Florida, on August 6. Disney Dreamers Academy will hold a virtual event this fall and, for the first time in the program’s history, offer career shadow externships for all 100 members of the class. (Photo by David Roark)

100 teens selected for 2020 Disney Dreamers Academy will experience the exclusive online program this fall

By Elaine Hegwood Bowen, M.S.J.

The immersive, transformational Disney Dreamers Academy will take place virtually this fall and, for the first time in its history, offer career shadow externships for all 100 members of the class.

Just like past Disney Dreamers Academy events, the virtual experience will deliver life lessons and tools such as effective communication techniques, leadership skills and networking strategies. This version of the program will do so with self-paced workshops, interactive video-conferencing sessions, networking opportunities and more, led by top speakers and industry professionals.

Following the virtual experience, all 100 students will be placed into career shadowing externships based on their dream professions so they can receive personal insight and advice from mentors.

The announcement of this new Disney Dreamers Academy experience was made August 5 at the virtual NABJ/NAHJ convention by Tracey D. Powell, Disney Signature Experiences vice president and Disney Dreamers Academy executive champion. The original, in-person 2020 Disney Dreamers Academy program was shortened earlier this year due to the temporary closure of Walt Disney World Resort.

“We were disappointed to have to cut this year’s event short due to the pandemic, and we knew we had to create something extra special for this outstanding group of high school students,” said Powell. “We expect to deliver an immersive, informative and inspirational experience that will impact these Disney Dreamers just as the traditional program has done for more than a decade.”

The program, now in its 13th year, is a part of Walt Disney World’s commitment to helping the next generation of young people by inspiring them at a critical time in their development.

STUDENTS FROM THE Chicago area selected for the 2020 Disney Dreamers Academy with Steve Harvey and ESSENCE meet Mickey Mouse at Magic Kingdom. Left to right: Ariyana Irving (Gary, Ind.), Jeremiah Lewis (Chicago), Jaden Maloney (Chicago), Mary Catherine Hanafee Laplante (Mount Prospect), Kennedy Crye (Joliet). (Photo by Todd Anderson)

The Disney Dreamers Academy theme is “Be100,” encouraging teens to be positive, to be “all in” and to carry what they learn back with them so they can relentlessly pursue their dreams and make a difference in the lives of others.

Previously, Steve Harvey has said: “I know from personal experience that big dreams lead to big success, and Disney understands that concept better than any other company. That is why I partner with them every year on this program to encourage big dreams for the next generation.”

I have covered this event for the Crusader many times, traveling to Walt Disney World and attending seminars and shadowing students as they participated in immersive, career-oriented deep dives, where they would be instructed by professionals in the field, including attorneys, judges, physicians and pop culture personalities, such as Trevor Jackson, Marcus Scribner and Miles Brown, of the “Grown-ish” and “Black-ish” franchises, respectively. Bishop T.D. Jakes, Magic Johnson, Chef Jeff Henderson, Yolanda Adams and Tamela Mann have also participated in past academies.

It has always been a great experience to see how the teens soak in as much as they can during the four-day event, which culminates with a graduation ceremony that is attended by the students’ parents and media representatives.

It’s good to see that this year’s event will go on, albeit virtually.

Regular updates about Disney Dreamers Academy are also available on social media at “Facebook.com/DisneyDreamersAcademy, Twitter.com/DreamersAcademy and Instagram.com/disneydreamersacademy.

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